Public health officials have not covered themselves in glory in the 127 weeks since the Trump administration announced “Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some signed a letter saying Black Lives Matter protests are “vital to national public health” while condemning anti-lockdown protests as “rooted in white nationalism and contrary to respect for black lives.” Others appeared to tell “noble lies” about the effectiveness of masks and the need for vaccinated people to continue wearing them. Others would have violated the confinements, travel restrictions and masking regimes they prescribed to the public.
Wrongdoing by public health officials combined with the social and economic effects of restrictions on public life of unprecedented scope and duration in the United States led some states to lift restrictions before federal officials public health — or even the Trump administration — don’t think they should. This led the prestigious metropolitan press to denounce Georgia’s “experiment of human sacrifice” or to write that “in Florida, we love our beaches. Thanks to our governor, we can now die for them. More seriously, teachers’ unions have exploited a climate of fear to keep schools closed until 2021, mask mandates persisting nowadays.
But some in the center-left health-politics world think the problem was state-level opposition, not federal overreach. In response to the state-level patchwork and growing distrust of public health officials, an organization called the Commonwealth Fund convened a commission on a national public health system with a group of elders. Liberal Democratic and Republican federal and state government officials in the establishment to tackle administrative issues. reforms for the next pandemic.
The committee’s report
In June, the Commonwealth Fund announced its supposed solution. For a group that last made a name for itself claiming to have laid the groundwork for Obamacare, the answer is predictable: more federal control, including “the power to set minimum health standards for states”.
The full report is what one would expect from an organization deeply involved in the development and promotion of Obamacare and a panel including the former FDA commissioner and former assistant secretary for health by interim Obama administration; the president of the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research center; and health officials in the administrations of Democratic governors and mayors. (It also included former CDC director George W. Bush and former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s health commissioner.) The report calls for more funding for public health, centralizing health efforts within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and to encourage continued collaboration. among local, state, and federal health bureaucrats, among others.
Section D of the report, entitled “Public health organizations should strive to earn the public’s trust,” is the most revealing. The Commonwealth Fund Commission acknowledges that trust in public health plummeted during the period of public health’s greatest exercise of coercive power over the population, but continues to embrace the left-progressive story of why it happened.
After throat-clearing paragraphs acknowledging the history of unethical medical experiments on black Americans in the antebellum and Jim Crow eras and the consequences of residual distrust in black communities, he examines the distrust latest from “rural and conservative” public health authorities. .”
Does the commission’s report acknowledge the hypocrisy of prominent public health officials who violated the mandates? No. Does the report concede that even creating the appearance of “noble lies” was wrong? No. Does the report admit that a blatant act of political patronage over permissions to breach unprecedented restrictions has undermined fundamental trust? No.
Instead, the Commonwealth Fund Commission argued that it was “a tsunami of disinformation and, when shared with bad intentions, misinformation” which led to increased mistrust.
A matter of values
While the report calls for “creating conditions of ethics and integrity in public health activities,” the specific recommendations appear to target the contribution of publicly accountable elected officials and give preference to irresponsible bureaucrats.
Decisions by elected officials like Gov. Brian Kemp (R-‘human sacrifice’) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-‘die for the beaches’) to ease lockdowns early, limit mask mandates and ban vaccination passports have made the authority of politicians to refuse to implement the policies desired by public health officials an obvious target for restrictionist activists. Even former restrictionist Leana Wen (former head of Planned Parenthood and TV commentator) has fallen into the crosshairs of a strict faction of public health activists for admitting that eradicating COVID-19 is indeed impossible and that the restrictions should now be lifted.
Wen’s journey from strict restrictionist to apostate illustrates what the Commonwealth Fund commission most clearly missed, at least in its report. The values of the public health community and significant swathes of rural, conservative America are in irreconcilable conflict. The public health profession as it exists has an implicit code of values that views physical health constrained by left-progressive politics as the highest good (“grossophobia”, one of Wen’s alleged transgressions, may be a particular sticking point here). But the public, which is the ultimate source of sovereignty in the American republic, has different values. That doesn’t mean they’re doctrinaire libertarians – lockdowns were initially popular – but it does Is mean they notice when irresponsible bureaucrats issuing unprecedented executive orders behave hypocritically or give special tolerance to their political allies, whether it’s Black Lives Matter protesters rallying despite ‘social distancing’ orders or teachers’ unions pushing to maintain restrictive school policies despite the fact that other countries are not doing so. They see health officials seem to give sexual license more deference than religious observance or even children’s schooling or endorse the “harm reduction” of intravenous drug use after removing the rims of outdoor basketball hoops during the pandemic.
Americans place other values above physical health, constrained by leftist progressive politics all the time. It should come as no surprise that after weeks, months and years of the most onerous restrictions imposed on the general population in at least a generation, those whose values have been most ruthlessly suppressed are looking askance at those whom CS Lewis might call them “the omnipotent moral scramblers”. ”